Working with books

I spent some time talking to some of the moms at my homeschool group this week about reading. I taught reading for many years, and it is something I love. One of the things that came up was what to do after your child has finished reading a book. Of course, many books come with guides full of great ideas, but we were discussing what to do when you don’t have a guide. I have A LOT of projects and things I used in my classroom and now use with my own kids that I shared during our discussion, and the other moms were excited about them, so I thought I’d share a few here.

Generally, I try to choose projects that allow kids to express what they have learned without having to write a multi-page report, because for a lot of kids, that just doesn’t work. The projects I choose tend to appeal to an area of interest to the child. So here I go:

1. For a child that likes to write creatively:

Have them create a “diary” for one of the characters in the book. They are to actually “be” that character and write diary entries describing the events that happened from that person’s point of view. What I look for here is, does the child have a grasp of the emotions the character was feeling? Are they able to explain the motivation behind the character’s actions? If a child has really “gotten” a book, they will pick up on those unwritten feelings behind what the character is saying/doing. Depending on the age of the child, you can ask for one diary entry or more. You can also specify how many paragraphs to write etc. Of course, this project involves writing/editing skills as well. I usually ask for the diary to have a decorated cover, and for the entries to be organized in some sort of logical flow.

2. For a child that likes to draw:

Have them create a “photo album” based on the book. You can specify a certain number of pictures if you want, or have the child decide how many they need to draw based on what they consider important in the book. Here I am looking to see if the child is able to pick out those important, pivotal moments in the story. Drawings could be hand drawn, and put into an actual photo album, or organized in some other way. I usually ask for each picture to include a caption explaining what “scene” from the book it is a picture of.

3. For musically inclined children:

I give them the option to create a “soundtrack” for the book. They are to pick a certain number of songs (for my 7th grader it would be around 10 depending on the book) that they think “go” with scenes from the book (kind of like a movie soundtrack). For this project, the child would make a list of songs, and explain orally or in writing, which scene the song goes with, and why they think that’s the best choice. Again, the child really has to think about what happened in the book in order to choose songs that “fit” correctly.

These are just a few ideas that I have gathered through the years. I am currently digging up my lists from the file cabinet and will post more in the coming weeks. I also have some ideas for books, especially ones that appeal to boys. I hope this gives you some new ways to work with books in your homeschool!

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